Dundalk saw off Portarlington with ease in the Provincial Towns Plate competition last Saturday by a scoreline of 40-11.
Both teams started well but penalties were the order of the day. Dundalk’s indiscipline cost them a number of times in the Portarlington twenty two. The home side were exerting considerable pressure on the opposition but penalties relieved the pressure time and again. Portarlington worked their way up the field to just five metres from the Dundalk line where they were awarded a scrum.
Portarlington’s number eight picked and went down the blind side of the scrum where he passed to his back row team mate who in turn found the scrum half. The scrum half delivered a wide pass to his winger who crossed the home line for the opening score. The conversion was missed leaving the score at 5-0.
Dundalk improved their focus and reduced the penalty count. They applied pressure on their opponents and kept them pinned in their own half. We started putting phases together and looked the better team. Further good handling and awareness of each other saw Rory O’Hagan speed up the wing and cross the line for Dundalk’s first score. The home side continued to spread the ball wide and out half Ultan Murphy spotted Johnny Grey on a charge up the middle. A good pass saw the hooker break through two tacklers and score under the posts. Ultan converted to leave the score at 12-5 after twenty minutes.
Portarlington were awarded a kickable penalty and their kicker duly obliged. Afa Fa’atau then decided to get in on the act and made a few of his powerful runs which are almost impossible to stop. Portarlington gamely tackled him but on the forty first minute he dashed clear to finish off some good handling and running with a try. The half time score now read 19-8 to Dundalk , Ultan having converted.
The second half saw Portarlington come out intent on trying to keep their name on the trophy. They sought to pressurise Dundalk who were penalised again and again allowing Port to remain in the home team’s half. Quality tackling kept out the best of Port’s efforts and a decision to kick left the score at 19-11.
The game was very well contested by both teams and scrums were most competitive. Johnny Williams at scrum half tried to speed up the game and kept the ball alive as much as possible. Fifty five minutes in, from a line out just inside the Port twenty two metre line a strong maul was formed and Dundalk were making gains towards the try line.Jonathan Grey was in control at the back of the maul and he made a timely break, attacking down the blindside to cross himself for his second score of the match. Ultan converted to bring the score to 26-11.
Jonathan Williams was sin binned for trying to roll away from a ruck as he was being vaulted by the Port scrum half. Dundalk now began to use their bench and give as many as possible a run against what was stern opposition.
A marvellous catch by full back Gerard Scully, reminiscent of another North Louth man, saw him run back at the Portarlington defence to keep us in their half. Quick ball from the ensuing ruck to Afa saw another strong run from him to leave him in space and a long pass out to Rory, who put on the afterburners, led to a second try of the afternoon for him. T.C. converted.
Gerard Scully scored the final try after a quick tap and go by T.C. who broke up the pitch and sent out a great scoring pass to the full back who skillfully side stepped the Port tackler to score under the posts with the final score at 40-11.
This was a good performance against a determined opposition who fielded a mix of youth and experience. Dundalk will hope that this good test will stand them in good stead for their final two outings in the League.
Next up Dundalk are away to Newbridge on Saturday next with a 3pm kick off with Wanderers asthe final Leinster League fixture the following week at Mill Road
Dundalk: G.Scully, R.O’Hagan, A.Fa’atau, M.J.McKevitt, O.McNally, U.Murphy, J.Williams, C.Brannigan, J.Grey, J.Smyth, C.O’Hanlon, M.Bentley, P.Meegan, S.Martin, G.Whately, R.Farrell, C.Williams, L.Steen, D.Clare, T.Campbell.